This is yet another of Summit County’s best kept secrets. Not the statue, which is a great memorial, but the man. Glenn Davis.
Known as Summit County’s greatest athlete, “Jeep” moved to the city of Barberton when he was 15 years old after both his parents died. Barberton became his adopted hometown. While he was still in West Virginia, a basketball coach told him, ‘‘You’ll never be a good athlete.’’
Davis proved the coach wrong in the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games when he won a total of 3 Gold Medals in the 440 meter hurdles and the 1600 meter relay. He held 5 World Records; 400 Meter Hurdles (49.2), 440 Yard Hurdles (49.9), 200 Meter Hurdles (22.5), 440 Yard Dash (45.7), 1600 Meter Relay (3:02.2) With those accomplishments you can imagine what “Jeep” did to high school, state, and college records. Check the memorial or “Google” Glenn Davis for a full list of his sports achievements. Besides his track and field accomplishments, Davis also coached the Cornell track team to a national title, and played football for the Detroit Lions.
“Jeep’s” influence on young people continued when he resettled in Barberton. There he took on the low profile role of high school teacher and coach. With his background he was a shoo-in for coach of the track and field team. Many up and coming hurdlers came from across the country to be coached by him, which he gladly did for free. Davis was assistant coach of the football team, and the mechanical drawing teacher, but the job he was best known for was drivers education. Besides teaching, he opened his own driving school, and was part owner of a pizza shop.
As an example of his moral character, in 1960, the year he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Davis was offered $125,000, (nearly a million dollars today,) for a cigarette endorsement. Smoking was beyond acceptable back then, it was a way of life for most Americans, even athletes. Davis still turned it down.
Every year a 5K and Kids Fun Run are held at Lake Anna in Davis’ honor and benefits the Jeep Davis Olympic Hopeful Fund.
Though Mr. Davis crossed his final hurdle in 2009, he is still remembered by his former students, friends, and fans as one of Summit County’s greatest athletes.